Monday, September 22, 2014

Hallowed Be Thy Name

I've met many people through the years, who have shared their stories with me.  And what I find is that their stories confirm what God's word says.  There is no power, no authority by which we can overcome sin except the power found in the name of God.  

Acts 4:12
"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Though many people reach out for help, they are unaware of how enslaved they are.  They just know that things are not going well in their lives and they want relief.  But some, though they know what God has said, refuse to accept it.  In general, there seems to be this notion of self sufficiency that convinces people that they don't really need God.  They're intent upon figuring things out on their own, and doing things their own way.  They don't really want to hear spiritual truth or consider that they are experiencing the effects of living outside of God's will and need to repent.  

What they really want is acceptance, and maybe a little "good luck" to help them get over their slump.  They work deals with themselves, God and who ever else they can utilize, trying to maintain control by pulling their strings until they are as tight as they can be, yet there is no real deliverance from the webs of entanglement they've gotten themselves into.  And those who try to help them in any other name but the name of Jesus merely placate the problems, which often results in enabling the one ensnared to go deeper and deeper into their sin and rebellion.

I can understand how those who are not saved would not understand their lack of power.   But what I don't understand, is when those who know God try to step in to "save the day" by their own power or their own wisdom, in any other name except the name of God.  I don't even know if they realize they are doing it.  But it happens.  It can be in the name of decency, the name of kindness, the name of humanity, the name of love.  It may be done in the name of "protecting the innocent", but rather than confronting the one entangled in sin about the fact that God has condemned sin in sinful man, and rather than offering true hope for overcoming the sin that is causing distress and hardship, they try to avoid such topics and say things like, "That's none of my business".  They would rather offer less controversial help, but no other help is powerful enough to free a man from the sin responsible for wrecking lives.  

I've seen it many times.  And it always ends the same way.  Someone is in trouble.   His life is falling apart.  Someone with good intentions steps in to help "sort things through".  Support is offered and given, but the in the end, the sinner goes right back to their sin...which is the catalyst for yet more entanglement.  And in the end, the person who stepped in to help becomes embittered and angry because their efforts were ineffective.  

Yet when Faithful Christian approaches the one enslaved with the truth of God's word, he is met with scorn by the would-be helper.  I've even seen Christians go out of their way to console non-christians when another Believer has dared to suggest that repentance is needed.  I've seen them make apologies for the fact that someone dared to preach the truth to them!  Brothers and sisters, this should not be.  

Though I can't be sure, I think what happens is that these people lose sight of the power of God's name.   They forget what life was like without Jesus and how powerless they were to overcome sin without Him.  Maybe they even begin to believe they weren't so bad before they were saved, and that they somehow overcame their circumstances in their own power.  

Another reason could be that they are embarrassed by the boldness of the Truth of the Gospel.  I've witnessed many Christians make apologies for it, as if it is a scandalous thing for someone to tell a sinner about the Law of God and their need to repent and be saved.  

It's true that many bad things have been done in the name of Jesus.  Bad or misguided people have used God's name in vain, twisting His words and using them as weapons to harm others.  But the Gospel is beautiful.  The message of redemption from sin is life giving.  Those of us who have been redeemed should always remember how powerless we were and how beautiful the Gospel is!  And we shouldn't believe the lie that tells us we should, or even could, exercise some other form of tenderness that stands apart from the Gospel.  Nothing is as tender or as powerful as the name of Jesus.  No name can save but the name of God.  No attempt to loose the bonds of slavery will be met with success unless it is empowered by the name of Jesus, and predicated upon His Law.   

When Christians lose sight of these things, they can easily cause others to stumble.  People see the Spirit of God in us.  They recognize that we are not enslaved.  But some have refused them the only help there is, and instead offer them an inferior solution conjured by their own wisdom or strength, because they are too cowardly to reiterate the Truth that saved them.     

What is needed is love.  The love of God is complete in that it gives the good news along with the bad.  It doesn't avoid the subject on the pretense of propriety.  God is holy.   When we sin against God, He says we reap what we sow.  Iniquity, though an uncomfortable subject, must be addressed.  The good news that follows the subject of our iniquity is the Cross of Christ.  

Isaiah 53:5
"But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and by his wounds we are healed."

Jesus paid the penalty for our sin and ransomed us from death.  He Himself bore our iniquities.  And in His name alone is the strength to overcome and the wisdom to choose the narrow path that leads to life. 

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